Tributes paid to former district councillor, Keith Mackman, who died on diving trip

Keith Mackman

Keith Mackman - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a former district councillor who died this week while diving in Orkney.

Keith Mackman, who helped form Residents For Uttlesford (R4U), is believed to have suffered a medical episode as he was about to explore the naval dive site Scapa Flow on Monday (October 24).

The alarm was raised with coastguards at around 9.10am and it was reported that Mr Mackman died at Houton Pier.

Mr Mackman, who has been described as a “Marmite character”, campaigned for the Conservative party prior to his involvement at R4U and was elected for Dunmow South in 2011.

After becoming one of the first councillors involved in R4U, Mr Mackman, who was strongly in favour of Britain leaving in the EU, lost his seat in the 2015 elections.

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Councillor John Lodge, R4U chairman, said: “We note the passing of Keith Mackman with great sadness.

“Throughout his life he was committed to public service. We got to know Keith over the last five years as he was one of the first councillors involved in Residents for Uttlesford.

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“He was committed and passionate about creating a real voice for Dunmow residents, even taking on and personally paying for action in the High Court to support them.

“He will be missed by his friends, colleagues and those he helped.”

Conservative Councillor Vic Ranger, of Dunmow South and Barnston, said: “Sad news received regarding the passing of Keith Mackman, a former district councillor, while diving in the Orkney Islands.

“Diving was a pursuit that gave him a lot of pleasure as he had told me on many occasions. I hope his soul is at peace.”

Joe Rich, former Conservative councillor for Stansted North, said: “Really sad to hear my dear friend and former Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Tory/R4U councillor Keith Mackman has been killed in a diving accident off Orkney.

“Keith was undoubtedly a Marmite character, but also a real hero on many levels. The whole unvarnished story of his life is very unlikely ever to be told now.

“However, I like Marmite and I’ll never forget him or his amazing stories - particularly those from the time when he “somehow became” RMT Union boss Bob Crow’s driver and the months he spent fighting alongside friends of mine in Bosnia.”

Alan Dean, Liberal Democrat councillor for Stansted North, said: “I will miss Keith Mackman and his often strident comments. We were polar opposites over the EU referendum and Brexit, so I was not immune from his sharp tongue.

“I think Keith left behind a set of councillors at Uttlesford who increasingly have minds of their own, and refuse to be told what to think and vote.

“That is a good legacy to bequeath to local democracy.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said the death was not being treated as suspicious.

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